The Music of Karl Korte-Updates, Record Reviews, recent Premiers

September 2011: Release on Centaur Records of: 
"The Guitar Music of Karl Korte" Duo46 with guest artist
            Evocations: 1: Te maori ; 2: Aki ; 3: Cyrpus (2004)
            Two Makams: 1: Fast; 2: slow (2003)
            Virtual Voices (with digital accompaniment) (2007)

The Guitar Music of  Karl Korte” performed by Duo46



Lovely works for guitar and violin (one work with cello). Some with Turkish or Japanese influence. Trk 6 is pre-recorded and mixed guitar and violin sounds–abstract and very different from the other tracks. Play any!” - (Vermont Public Radio)

January 2011 Look for "Rick's Pick"

   “This disc offers a somewhat challenging but ultimately richly rewarding program of recent works for guitar and violin by the American composer Karl Korte. The first is a three-part work based on musical elements from New Zealand, Japan, and Turkey; the second draws more extensively on Turkish rhythmic traditions; the third adds prerecorded digital sounds to the mix--and humorously elides the beginning of the composition proper by including a "tuning-up" section at the beginning. The broad tonal and timbral palette on which Korte draws in his various pieces (but especially on the third) is fascinating, and his melodies, though frequently spiky, are always coherent. Nice.” (RA)

Karl Korte (b.1928) is a scrupulous composer of music that’s of high quality and not easily categorized (disclosure: though I’ve never met him, I wrote the notes for one of his CDs, and am cited on his Web site). These three works are the fruit of his ongoing recent collaboration with Duo46: Matt Gould, guitar, and Beth-Ilana Schneider-Gould, violin. Korte has a gift for writing music that’s fluid (it always has an idea and knows how to develop it), focused on clear and memorable motives, and harmonically rich but neither chromatically clotted nor too tonally predictable. He has a naturally sophisticated rhythmic sense. Two of the three works also show a sympathy for musics from non-Western classical traditions. The trio Evocations (2004) takes inspiration from New Zealand Maori, Japanese, and Cypriot sources. The 2003 Two Makams are derived from Turkish musical practice. In all of these there’s a sense of natural engagement with these traditions, neither ethnographically slavish nor culturally cavalier.

Another form of engagement is with the electroacoustic tradition, represented by Virtual Voices (2007), for the duo with fixed media accompaniment. This is a substantial work, almost 20 minutes long, with the electronic component being a recording derived from samples of the performers that are in turn processed and layered. The blend is subtle and smooth; rarely are there dramatically perceptible differences between the live and recorded. Rather, one feels a general expansion of the performative field. My only reservation is that without seeing the piece I find it hard at times to distinguish what is “live” and what “taped” (shades of Memorex!). This isn’t a criticism of the piece, so much as of the best means of presentation and archiving. But all composers do their best with what they can.

Perhaps Korte’s greatest contribution is simply creating this body of work for Duo46. I’ve been hearing of them for some years now, and this recording shows them to be superb players. Their instrumentation is a beautiful balance—two strings, both relatively homogeneous in timbre but with a wide variety of special effects, one plucked and one bowed (though of course the violin has pizzicato in its arsenal). Similar and also very different. The result is an extremely satisfying chamber sound. I know there’s a good deal of literature for this pairing, but most that I know of tends to be more in the parlor/salon genre. Duo46 (four strings and six strings, I assume) demonstrates with this disc that composers should be stepping up to the plate and creating works of substance and variety for the medium, as it seems quite capable of handling them.

Overall, a very appealing project, well performed and produced. - Robert Carl

Juilliard | The Juilliard Journal Online


A winning trio New CDs include the exotic and the familiar

By Joseph Dalton Special To The Times Union Sunday, February 13, 2011

Karl Korte, an 82-year-old composer and long time resident of Washington County, has a new CD on the Centaur label titled "Guitar Music." Strictly speaking, that's an accurate description although there's no single piece on the disc scored only for guitar. That's just the instrument common to the three works, each written during the last decade.

The opening, "Evocations," is a kind of travelogue for a trio of guitar, violin and cello. The three movements draw on the musical practices of places Korte has visited and studied at during his career. In order, they are New Zealand, Japan and Turkey. These locales aren't obvious in listening, but there's an appealing and exotic blend throughout.

"Two Makams" are a pair of dances in asymmetrical meters, one fast, one slow. As with everything else in the collection, they're beautifully performed by Duo46, which consists of guitarist Matt Gould and violinist Beth Ilana Schneider, for whom all these pieces were composed. They have an unusual but rather inspired instrumental combination that can go from lyric and rhapsodic to percussive and earthy.

The final work, "Virtual Voices," begins with the instruments tuning. The open strings become the basis for an electro-acoustic exploration. It's a clever, if not wholly original idea. The increasingly blury and fragmented textures show Korte to be a techie, as well as a skilled composer with a keen ear for how to show live performers at their best.


Earlier Updates

March 7, 2009:St. Peter's Church, NYC
             Premiere of "Home to Roost"
             Songs on texts by Poet Laureate Kay Ryan 
             Commissioned by the Gregg Smith Singers
July 18-24, 2008: Pavia, Italy SoundScape Festival
                         Artist in Residence 
              Premiere of "Virtual Voices"for guitar, violin and digital sound
                        Commissioned by Duo46
June 25, 2008: Greenwich House Music school 46 Barrow St, 8 pm
              DOWNTOWN ENSEMBLE presents:
                    Karl Korte's "Birds of Aotearoa"

May 30, 2008:St. Peters Church, NYC
Second International Festival of Women and Girls Voices
          Premiere of “The Time Is…” (treble voices, piano and digital sound)
               Composed in celebration of the New York Treble Singer’s 
         Director, Virginia Davidson and the composer’s 80th Birthdays
February 20, 2007: Florida State University: performance of "Evocations" for                  
violin, guitar, and cello with cellist Evan Jones.

February 12, 2007: Birmingham-Southern College:  North American                                        
Premiere of "Evocations" for violin, guitar, and cello commissioned by Duo46                            
with cellist Craig Hultgren.

October 23, 2006: 
               "The Time Is:" performance by Robert Page and the Carnegie Mellon
                                         Choir, Pittsburg, PA.
July 14 & 15, 2006:
         Premiere of "The Time Is:"  a new work for chorus, piano and strings commissioned by                
Music from Salem for their 20th Anniversary, Hubbard Hall, Cambridge, NY July 15. Based              
upon two texts by Eve Merriam and texts adapted from American Revolutionary War sources, a        
folk song from the Civil War, the Women's Sufferage Movement, and a poem by a young                  
student (2006). Performed by the Salem Festival Choir, directed by Richard Butler and                      
instrunentalists from the 2006 Music from Salem group. 
Oct. 8 - OCT. 15, 2004: New Choral Music:  
Korte was in residence at Eastern Mediterrranean University at Gazimagusa, Turkey for
concerts of his music, lectures and the premiere of commissioned works for guitar, violin and cello. Commissioned by Duo46. 
2004. New Choral Music: "a magnificant work." - Gregg Smith
  Premiered in NYC -SHIKI(the seasons), for SATB (or SSA) chorus with Premiered in NYC
-SHIKI(the seasons), for SATB (or SSA) chorus with soloists and a digital accompaniment (on CD) created from the sounds of the 
human voice, the koto, other Japanese percussion and the wind. Texts drawn from apanese haiku nature poetry celebrating the seasons. 

                                                                                                                 Haru- Spring, Natsu- Summer, Aki- Autumn, Fyeu- Winter

Total performance time about 28 minutes.  Movements may be separately performed. Scores (SATB or SSA) and CD's with both practice and performance versions available from the composer.